Introduction: LED Light Shelf

First of all, im new to the instructables page, so this is a new experience that I would love to try!, the English its not my first language, so if something doesn't seem to look right in grammar or expressions, please let me know.

It all started when i was trying to work at my desk in some project that i don't remember at this point, it turned out that I didn't have space to work with all my things laying around, I don't consider myself a messy person, and even then i find out with little to no space, so the logic solution would be make some shelf to reorder my desk and work better but making something simple isn't my thing, instead I choose to go with the practical ideas, so it needed to be a shelf that would help me in other way, so the first idea it occurs to me was a lamp that light me up in the nights, so once decided the project it was time to work


In the tools side of supplies with no particular order of importance are:

  • Drill (with proper bits for the work)
  • Jigsaw
  • Saw
  • Level
  • Screwdriver
  • Soldering kit for electronics
  • Electric wire cutter
  • Hammer
  • Brush
  • Hot glue gun
  • Glasses
  • Mask
  • Measure tape

This were the things I used, someone could use more or less depending of the tools they use for work

With the material, I use for this project:

  • One 1in x 8 in x 10 feet pinewood
  • One 1in x 2 in x 10 feet pinewood
  • LED strip ( I use about 2.5 meters)
  • Support brackets
  • Varnish
  • Sandpaper
  • 1 inch nails
  • 1 inch screws
  • 5/16 screws for the brackets
  • 1/4 screws with proper wall plugs
  • Hot glue
  • Acrylic (3mm height)

Step 1: Dimensions

The general project is planned like this, making a shelf with 3 levels of wood:

  1. The upper level is the one with just a simple wood where the things are gonna be
  2. The middle level is a frame with the intention of making a difference between the led strips and the bottom level.
  3. The bottom level has a rectangle hole in the middle with the intention of putting the acrylic over it and letting pass the light of the LED strip to the outside

The pieces of wood where cut in half at the store just so I could easily travel around with them. I knew I wouldn’t need more than half of every piece of wood so it wouldn’t matter.

With the pieces back home I measure them and cut them to their final dimensions: two pieces of 90cm (about 2.9 feet) for the 8 inch x 1 inch wood two pieces of the same 90cm for the 2´´x´´1 wood two pieces of 10cm (about 4 inches) with the 2 inch x1 inch wood The little pieces are going to be used for making the middle level (a frame) between the upper and bottom level . The dimensions were chosen arbitrarily thinking it wouldn’t be too heavy.

Step 2: Cutting

Because I wanted to put some LEDs to shrine underneath the shelve I needed to cut a rectangle in the middle of the 8x1 wood (bottom level) , what I did in this case was center a rectangle with 1 cm less the dimensions of the acrylic so it would see thought and it could be glued to the side.

i make the cut of the center rectangle in a way with the toolsI have, it would be easy with a router or some fancy tool, but i didn't have one, so i just drill que 4 corners of the rectangle just enough so it could be be fit with my jigsaw and cut through all 4 sides. It ended up being very effective, however its not clean, (far from i) but it made the job done, i just needed the light to come thought

Other thing that it needed to be cut, was a hole in one side of the frame so it could pass the cable needed to energize the LED strip, I started drilling to make the hole, however I suddenly realize that it wasn't big enough for the input to pass it, so I moved around the brill bit to make it bigger, however it wasn't still big enough and what i ended up doing was cut the upper side of the hole,

Step 3: Sanding and Varnished

For this step i'm actually making the finishing , i'm doing it this early because I didn't want to solder and glueing the LED strip and taking care I didn't mess up something in the sanding or painting, same thing for the acrylic it could be scratched if I do it after, so i prefer doing this early and working around a finished part instead of doing all the work and finishing later.

For this part, i sanded with two sandpapers one for roughing, and one for finishing, i just sanded the parts that i knew where going to be facing outside, everything that were inside or behind i didn't do it just for having less work. After the two sanding with the different sandpaper it was ready for some varnish, the one i bought already have a painting, so it was two in one after that, i led it dry for two days.

Step 4: Assembling the LED Strip

I glued the acrylic in the part with the lower level of the shelf,the acrylic had a protective plastic for keeping it safe, so i just took it, i centered the most possible the acrylic and when i was sure it was the right position, i use some hot glue for keeping it right there.

I needed to place the LED strip , so I projected a rectangle with about the same dimension that the wood with the rectangle hole, the dimensions of this one are about 60cms, so I cut the LED strip accordingly (the distance more close to the possible cut of the strip), then I filled the rectangle with strips of the same length until it filled the width, in my case was 6 strips and I stick it with the tape that comes with the strip.

The first strip comes with the input for the voltage that came with the LED strip, so that one I put it near the hole I made for the charger. I solder with a multimeter for checking continuity and don’t mess up with ground and voltage, the solder I must admit it wasn’t one of my best works, but it does the job done, I cut 6 strips of some 12AWG wire reds and 6 blacks, the color just to easily identify ground and voltage I actually mess up a couple times with the ground and voltage, soldering in the wrong side, ( I was checking the light up of the strips as I was soldering for knowing it was working and revise the work, it’s not hard to take away a solder, but somewhat annoying , but nothing it cannot be fixed, once everything was working , I put electric tape in the connections

Step 5: Assembling the Shelf

Once all the electric was done I fixed the frame with the upper wood, first I put the input of the LED strip in the hole I made for securing his place, I glued the upper and lower part of the frame (the long parts) trying to made it the more straight possible and finally put the right part of the frame, and adjust everything in place, finally use some hot glue for fixture in the input of the charger I let it dry one day, because I don’t have clamps, I just put the other side of the wood for the weight,

The next day I nailed the frame for extra steadiness, I don't have a special table to do nailing, so I did it on the floor, with some sheets for lighten up the hit. After that I screw the upper level with the middle and lower level,in a way that if I needed to open the inside if something had to be fixed in the future, the final part of the assembly was putting the support brackets for the installation , I made that with some 1/4 screws at the edge of the shelf, after that it was ready for the installation

Step 6: Installing the Shelf

For the installation I first see the exact place it would fit into having in count my desk for the best alignment I use a level and once that the position was set, I mark down the holes needed for the brackets , and with a concrete drill of a ¼ inch I set the distance of the wall plug with some tape, just so I didn't drill too little or too much, I drill the wall and put a wall plug in the places I mark with the help of a hammer

With some extra help to hold the shelf up I was able to screw it to the wall, it took many minutes if you do it by hand, but is possible After that it was just a matter of checking the light up and see the results.

Step 7: Tips and Thoughts

In the matter of the project:

  • As a beginner it took somewhat of knowledge to know what nails and screws to use, especially if i didn't travel around with the wood to see it physically, but something not so logical came at the time of the dimensions of the woods, I knew it was called a 1in x 2in wood, but it's actually a little bit less, the 1in x 2in its actually the nominal measure, so you need to have that in mind at the time of buying the nails,screws,etc because i ended up buying it two times
  • At the varnish, just by experiment I varnish some sides with zero and one sandpaper, just to see the difference and it does see, so it's a good thing follow all the instructions
  • Remember when I say that I just sand the sides that it would face the outside? well, I actually forgot of two sides,so before of assembling the shelf I varnish those 2 sides
  • At the varnish, things can get stuck, like paper,looks messy but it's easy cleanable with alcohol
  • Like most project there aren't mistakes that you cannot correct, it's just a matter of having open mind and being resourceful

In the matter of the instructable

  • Take pictures of EVERYTHING you do it's more hard that I thought , sometimes when I was focused didn't take pictures and had to go back and take it
  • You have to keep track of key comments that you think at the time of making the project, I remember most of what I tried to say, but I sure forgot something
  • The english its not my main language, so I needed to search the words for things that I used
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